2022 Season Review: Minnesota Twins

Check out my 2022 Season Preview Article for the Twins here.

Image: Jordan Johnson / USA TODAY Sports

2022 Record: 78-84 (.481win%, 3rd in Division)

2022 Payroll: $159,051,658 (16th

2022 Lineup:

1. DH Luis Arraez, .316 AVG/.375 OBP/.420 SLG, 4.4 fWAR

2. SS Carlos Correa, .291 AVG/.366 OBP/.467 SLG, 5.4 fWAR

3. 2B Jorge Polanco, .235 AVG/.346 OBP/.405 SLG, 2.8 fWAR

4. RF Max Kepler, .227 AVG/.318 OBP/.348 SLG, 2.1 fWAR

5. CF Gilberto Celestino, .238 AVG/.313 OBP/.302 SLG, 0.5 fWAR

6. LF Nick Gordon, .272 AVG/.316 OBP/.427 SLG, 1.6 fWAR

7. 1B Jose Miranda, .268 AVG/.325 OBP/.426 SLG, 1.0 fWAR

8. 3B Gio Urshela, .285 AVG/.338 OBP/.429 SLG, 3.1 fWAR

9. C Gary Sánchez, .205 AVG/.282 OBP/.377 SLG, 0.9 fWAR

10. CF/DH Byron Buxton, .224 AVG/.306 OBP/.526 SLG, 4.0 fWAR

2022 Rotation:

1. Joe Ryan, 147.0 IP/3.55 ERA/1.10 WHIP, 2.2 fWAR

2. Sonny Gray, 119.2 IP/3.08 ERA/1.13 WHIP, 2.3 fWAR

3. Dylan Bundy, 140.0 IP/4.89 ERA/1.28 WHIP, -0.3 fWAR

4. Chris Archer, 102.2 IP/4.56 ERA/1.32 WHIP, 0.01 fWAR

5. Devin Smeltzer, 70.1 IP/3.71 ERA/1.22 WHIP, 0.9 fWAR

2022 Top 4 Relievers:

1. Emilio Pagan, 63.0 IP/4.43 ERA/1.37 WHIP, -0.5 fWAR

2. Caleb Thielbar, 59.1 IP/3.49 ERA/1.16 WHIP, 0.5 fWAR

3. Jhoan Duran, 67.2 IP/1.86 ERA/0.98 WHIP, 2.8 fWAR

4. Griffin Jax, 72.1 IP/3.36 ERA/1.05 WHIP, 0.9 fWAR

Regular Season Recap:

The Twins’ 2022 season was a lot like Grey’s Anatomy. It started great, but the longer it went on, the more you just wanted it to be over. Their 50-44 first half kept them in it long enough to play meaningful September baseball, but injuries, poor pitching, and an offense that was just trying to do its best ultimately sank the ship that was the 2022 Minnesota Twins.

Injuries seemed to be the story of the season for the Twins, and boy were there a lot. Overall, Twins players spent a total of 2,363 days on the injured list this season, second to only the Cincinnati Reds. Starting pitchers Sonny Gray, Chris Archer, and Tyler Mahle each spent at least a month on the injured list, Carlos Correa had multiple stints, and Byron Buxton missed the entire month of September. Minnesota sent 32 players to the injured list in 2022, a number that the best teams in baseball wouldn’t be able to overcome. 

Injuries were something that the Twins didn’t have any control over. Their shortcomings on the mound, however, were not. Starting pitching only turned in 782 innings this year- good for the fourth worst in the league. Gray, Archer, and Dylan Bundy, all offseason acquisitions, did what was asked of them. Sonny Gray was the best of the bunch, pitching his way to a team-best ERA (3.08) and FIP (3.41).

Joe Ryan, the Opening Day starter for the Twins, pitched extremely well in his first full season. Ryan was the winningest pitcher on the team, taking home a victory in 13 of the 27 games that he started. His 9.24 K/9 was second on the team, due in part to his elite fastball. His wFB of 24.2 was the third highest in all of Major League baseball. 

A lot was asked of the bullpen, and eventually, that caught up to them. The 546 innings pitched was the fifth highest in the league, leading to a whopping 36 games lost by the bullpen. Emilio Pagan was dreadful during his time as the Twins’ closer. After giving up the lead four times in eight games against the eventual AL Central champions, he lost his role as the Twins’ late-inning guy. Jhoan Duran was the star of the bullpen, posting a sub-two ERA in 57 appearances. His fastball had an average velocity of 100.9 MPH, completely overpowering the opposing teams. 

If I told you that the 2021 Twins were better offensively than the 2022 Twins, would you believe me? Compared to 2021, the Twins saw decreases in home runs, runs, walks, and stolen bases, among other things. The 2022 lineup consisted of players who shined, players who surprised, and players who have a lot of work to do in the off season. 

Starting with a bang, Luis Arraez had a fantastic 2022 campaign. His biggest accomplishment, one that hasn’t quite gotten the recognition it deserves, was being crowned the American League batting champion. His .316 average was just enough, as he beat Aaron Judge by only five points. 

On the corners, the Twins were treated with a couple of pleasant surprises. After losing Miguel Sanó early in the season, rookie Jose Miranda took over at first. He scuffled out of the gate but eventually figured things out. His 15 home runs ranked ninth among qualified rookies. Over at third, Gio Urshela had one of the best seasons of his career. He slashed .285/.338/.429 and accumulated a WAR of 3.1, cementing himself as one of the Twins’ most valuable players this season. 

Jorge Polanco and Carlos Correa held things down up the middle. After an outstanding 2021 campaign, it’s understandable that fans are slightly disappointed with his 2022 production. Plagued by lingering knee and back issues, Polanco hit only 16 home runs- more than half as many as he hit last season. Coming off of an impressive 2021 season, Carlos Correa didn’t seem to regress at all. His 140 OPS+ led the team and was the 18th-highest in the league.

Byron Buxton once again showed the baseball world that when he is healthy, he is one of the best players on this planet. He managed to play in 92 games this season, his most since 2017 (which happens to be his only full season). In those 92 games, he hit 28 (!) home runs and led the team with six stolen bases. 

Aside from Buxton, the rest of the outfield was… well, there I guess? Max Kepler has yet to recreate his 2019 season, and I think people are beginning to give up on him. Gilberto Celestino, who actually played more games in center field than Byron Buxton, was arguably the Twins’ least valuable position player this year. In 122 games, Celestino hit a total of two home runs and had only 24 RBIs. Nick Gordon doesn’t necessarily deserve to be in the same conversation as Kepler and Celestino, as he actually had a fairly good season. Although he spent the majority of his time in left field, Gordon acted as a super utility player. Playing in 136 games, he split his time between LF, CF, 2B, SS, and 3B. 

M-SABR Predicted Record (80-82) vs. Actual (78-84):

Before the season, I predicted that weak pitching would make it difficult for the Twins to finish above .500. I may or may not have said that the AL Central was going to surprise people, and that the Twins would have a hard time beating their tough division rivals. 

Let’s focus on the first prediction (and only the first prediction, please)! The Twins had a second half to forget, and that ultimately led to them finishing with a losing record. Injuries piled up, and the Twins just couldn’t return to the team they were for the first few months of the season. 

Surprise of the Season:

Is it possible for me to just say the entire first half? Before things took a turn for the worst, the Minnesota Twins looked as though they were going to run away with the AL Central. A lot of people expected the Twins to improve upon their 73-89 record from the year before, but I don’t think anybody expected the dominant team that took the field for the first two months of the season. 

On the first of June, the Twins found themselves leading the White Sox and Guardians by five games. Who knows how the season would have played out had the injuries not piled up, we could have had a real Cinderella story on our hands.

Players We Watched: 

Carlos Correa did everything that the Twins asked of him this season. He hit for power, he hit for average, and he played above-average defense. He may not have carried them to the promised land, but there’s only so much that one player can do. There’s truly nothing I can say that hasn’t been said already- Carlos Correa is a stud. He was an exciting player to watch this year, and hopefully Twins fans can watch him for many years to come. 

In my season preview, I said, “Brent Rooker can become a permanent fixture in this Minnesota Twins lineup.” So, I may not have hit that one right on the nose. After being traded before the season, and then again at the deadline, Rooker is hoping to become a permanent fixture in the Kansas City Royals’ lineup! 

In 16 games between the Padres and Royals, Rooker slashed an abysmal .125/.222/.156 with 11 strikeouts. He did fantastic in AAA, hopefully he’s able to put it all together during the offseason and compete for a spot on Kansas City’s roster in 2023. 

After being traded from the Yankees, I thought that a change of scenery would do Gary Sánchez some good. I’ve always been a big fan of his, for no reason other than the fact that I like his name, so as much as it pains me to say this, I think the Gary Sánchez experiment may be over. Not the power bat that he once was, Sánchez no longer gives people a reason to overlook his poor defense. 

In 2022, his HR% (3.4) was the lowest it has ever been. His SO% (28.9) was the second highest of his career, and his BB% (8.5) was the second lowest. He will be a free agent heading into 2023, and there is a high possibility that the Twins look elsewhere for the catcher of their future. 

Offseason Outlook:

This is a Twins team that started the season 27-16 and spent 92 days in first place. Their season may have collapsed near the finish line, but it is clear that they’re capable of winning the weakest division in Major League Baseball. Heading into the offseason, the Twins need to spend some money. They’re only a couple of pieces away from being competitive again, and there are plenty of free agents on the market who could make an immediate impact. 

Even though they made moves at the deadline, pitching still appears to be the Twins’ biggest weakness (Pete Maki shouldn’t feel too comfortable in the job security department). Jacob deGrom, Carlos Rodón, and Chris Bassitt are the biggest names available, and if this front office was serious about winning, they’d bring in at least one elite starting pitcher. 

Unless they believe that Ryan Jeffers is the catcher of the future, the Twins should look to either sign or acquire an all-star caliber backstop. Willson Contreras is set to become a free agent, and he is the perfect candidate to fill this role. He’ll be on the pricier side, but catchers of his caliber are few and far between, so the Twins shouldn’t hesitate to meet the $100+ million that he’ll be asking for. Christian Vazquez will be the cheaper option, and maybe (if they’re feeling really crazy) the Twins will want to trade for a player like Sean Murphy.

Adding some reinforcements to the bullpen should be a goal of the Twins (let me take this opportunity to bring up Pete Maki’s job again), and they might need to look for a shortstop. If Carlos Correa doesn’t re-sign, they’ll need someone to hold down the fort until Royce Lewis can return from his ACL injury. 

Something to Watch:

Will he stay or will he go? After a lousy end to the season, Carlos Correa’s future with the Twins seems to be one big question mark as they head into the offseason. After comparing his situation to shopping at a Dior store, and making comments such as, “I’m the product here, and if they want my product, they’ve just got to come get it,” it seems as though he’s going to test the market for the second year in a row. It will be interesting to see if the front office of the Twins decides to go all-in on Correa, or if they opt to use the money elsewhere. 

Bonus thing to watch: Rebrand! Team president Dave St. Peter announced that the Twins will have a new logo and new uniforms ahead of the 2023 season… exciting!

Categories: 2022 Season Review, Articles, Post-COVID

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